Under the Big Sky

Copyright 2014, Scott D. Murdock


Montana and Wyoming are among my favorite states to explore.  I enjoy the wide open spaces.  The sky really does seem bigger in this part of the country.  For this report, I visited two locations of W.W.II significance in Wyoming, then ten locations of Cold War significance in Montana.

Saturday, 7 Jun 2014

The Outback took me north from Denver into Wyoming.  My first stop was the Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum, to attend the opening day of their D-Day exhibit and say hello to Curator Doug Cubbison.  It pleases me that the museum is located on the former Casper AFB.

Casper AFB WY  42-54-25, 106-27-55    Casper AAFld was a busy, bomber crew training base during W.W.II.  After the war, the large 3,313.8 acre base lingered on the books in an inactive status.  On 13 Jan 1948 it was redesignated Casper Air Force Base by DAF General Order #2.  The base was assigned to Strategic Air Command (SAC) at that time.  It retained this designation when it was transferred from SAC to Air Materiel Command on 15 Jan 1952.  The final listing I have found for Casper AFB is in the Dec 1952 USAF Installations Directory.  For this visit I made arrangements with airport authorities to access the flight line, so I could photograph the front of the hangars.
(Hangar #1)
(Hangar #1)
(Hangar #2)
(Hangar #3)
(Hangar #4)
(Civilian hangar)
(Hangar #5)
(Hangar #5)
(Hangar #5)
(Hangar #5)
(Sub-depot shops)
(Firing-in butt)

Casper Ground Gunnery Range WY  42-55-20, 106-24-55    The range, covering 2,924 acres, was acquired in 1943 and declared surplus in 1949.  It contained a rifle range, submachine gun range, and a ground gunnery range.  The ground gunnery range was the Poorman type, designed in Nov 1943 by Major Fred S. Poorman of the Chief of Engineers Office for the Army Air Forces.  This range used aircraft turrets mounted on the firing line, giving aerial gunners realistic practice on the ground before they took to the air.  Casper's Poorman Range Trainer was planned for 21 or possibly even 32 turret positions, but only eight Martin upper turret positions were built before construction was stopped.  After he locked up the museum for the day, Doug was kind enough to take me over to the range!  This was the first Poorman range I've visited.  I counted six groups of firing positions, and they are shown here moving from north-northwest to south-southeast, with the observation tower between groups three and four.
(General view of firing positions and range tower)
(First group)
(First group)
(First group)
(Second group)
(Second group)
(Second group)
(Third group)
(Third group)
(Third group)
(Range tower)
(Range tower)
(Range tower)
(Range tower)
(Fourth group)
(Fourth group)
(Fourth group)
(Fifth group)
(Fifth group)
(Fifth group)
(Sixth group)
(Sixth group)
(Sixth group)
(Building foundation)
(Building foundation)
(Latrine foundation)
(Latrine foundation)
(Debris with range tower in background)

I stopped for the night in Casper, Wyoming, after a 336-mile day.

Wednesday, 11 Jun 2014

By this time I was staying in Shelby, Montana.  I headed east to Havre, then north to within a few miles of Canada.

Havre Training Site MT  (HAAV)  48-55-40, 110-14-19    This radar bomb scoring site was supported by Malmstrom AFB.  It was activated 1 Oct 1986, inactivated 30 Jun 1993, and disposed of 11 Jun 1998.  Havre AFS was brought back to service in conjunction with this site.  Havre Training Site was referred to as the technical-operations area, while the older Havre AFS was referred to as the administration/support area.
(Building)
(Building)
(Building)
(Building)

Havre AFS MT  (2473, KHEC) 48-52-50, 109-56-41    This Air Defense Command (ADC) long-range radar site was also identified as site P-25 or Z-25.  First used in 1952, the 85 acre site was inactivated 30 Jun 1993 and disposed of 11 Jun 1998.  Support was from Malmstrom AFB.  The large AN/FPS-27 radar tower, added in 1965, is the only radar tower still standing.  The station initially shut down on 1 Jul 1979, but was reused as an administration/support area in conjunction with Havre Training Site in 1986 (Facilities 8, 24, and 27 were built for this later period of use). The Operations Building was at some point in time enlarged to function as a Backup Interceptor Control Center; this was one of 16 CONUS locations upgraded to the BUIC-III standard.  BUIC operations shut down in 1974, leaving excess space inside the building -- this explains the Base Theater sign on one wing of the building.  I was fortunate to visit on a day when the property was being advertised for sale and a personnel gate was open.
(Front gate)
(Front gate and Facility 27)
(General view)
(Facility 8 - Vehicle Storage and Maintenance)
(Facility 8 - Vehicle Storage and Maintenance, and foundation of Facility 7 - Hobby Shop/Vehicle Maintenance)
(Facility 16 - Dormitory)
(Facility 23 - Dormitory)
(Facility 23 - Dormitory)
(Facility 24 - Dormitory)
(Facility 27 - Recreation, Commissary, Base Exchange Facility)
(Facility 27 - Recreation, Commissary, Base Exchange Facility)
(Facility 27 - Recreation, Commissary, Base Exchange Facility)
(Facility 27 - Recreation, Commissary, Base Exchange Facility)
(Facility 27 - Recreation, Commissary, Base Exchange Facility)
(Facility 27 - Recreation, Commissary, Base Exchange Facility)
(Facility 27 - Recreation, Commissary, Base Exchange Facility)
(Facility 27 - Recreation, Commissary, Base Exchange Facility with Sewage Lagoons in background)
(Facility 28 - Security Gatehouse)
(Facility 28 - Security Gatehouse)
(Facility 28 - Security Gatehouse)
(Facility 28 - Security Gatehouse)
(Facility 28 - Security Gatehouse, Facility 39, and Telco Building)
(Facility 29 - Storage)
(Facility 31 - Maintenance)
(Facility 31 - Maintenance)
(Facility 31 - Maintenance)
(Facility 32 - Maintenance and Storage)
(Facility 35 - FPS-27 Radar Tower)
(Facility 35 - FPS-27 Radar Tower)
(Facility 35 - FPS-27 Radar Tower)
(Facility 35 - FPS-27 Radar Tower)
(Facility 35 - FPS-27 Radar Tower)
(Facility 35 - FPS-27 Radar Tower)
(Facility 35 - FPS-27 Radar Tower)
(Facility 35 - FPS-27 Radar Tower)
(Facility 35 - FPS-27 Radar Tower)
(Facility 39 - Operations Building)
(Facility 39 - Operations Building)
(Facility 39 - Operations Building)
(Facility 39 - Operations Building)
(Facility 39 - Operations Building)
(Facility 39 - Operations Building)
(Facility 39 - Operations Building)
(Facility 39 - Operations Building)
(Facility 39 - Operations Building)
(Facility 39 - Operations Building)
(Facility 39 - Operations Building)
(Facility 39 - Operations Building)
(Facility 39 - Operations Building)
(Facility 39 - Operations Building)
(Facility 39 - Operations Building)
(Facility 39 - Operations Building and Facility 35)
(Facility 40 - Communications Transmitter Building)
(Facility 40 - Communications Transmitter Building)
(Facility 40 - Communications Transmitter Building)
(Facility 41 - Water System Building)
(Facility 41 - Water System Building, and Facility 42)
(Facility 42 - Communications Receiver Building)
(Facility 42 - Communications Receiver Building)
(Facility 44 - Power Plant)
(Facility 44 - Power Plant)
(Facility 44 - Power Plant)
(Facility 52 (left) and 54 (right) - Family Housing)
(Facility 54 (right) and 52 (left) - Family Housing)
(Facility 64 (right) and 72 (left) - Family Housing)
(Facility 72 (left) and 64 (right) - Family Housing)
(Telephone Company Building)
(Telephone Company Building)
(Water System Building)
(Water System Building)
(Water System Building)
(Water Reservoir)
(Water Reservoir, Facility 32, and Facility 31)

Havre Family Housing Annex MT  (KHEN)  48-52-58, 109-56-41    Adjacent to the north side of Havre AFS, this property provided 18 additional homes for assigned personnel.  These relocatable homes were added in 1974 (27 homes existed on the AFS proper since 1959).
(View from the housing annex)
(Housing annex showing foundation posts and electrical transformers)
(View from the housing annex showing sidewalk and fire hydrant)

Havre Communications Facility Annex MT  (7170, KHEH)  48-52-47, 109-56-28    This ADC communications annex, a Ground-to-Air Transmit and Receive (GATR) facility, was south-southeast of Havre AFS.  It was first used about 1961 and disposed of 2 Oct 1989.
(Building and Gate)

(Building)
(Building)
(Building)
(Building)

LORAN Station Havre MT  48-44-38, 109-58-55    This U.S. Coast Guard Long Range Navigation (LORAN) site with 700' mast radiator antenna was established in 1990 and closed 8 Feb 2010. 
(General view from gate)
(Cable anchor)
(Antenna)
(Buildings)
(Building)
(Antenna detail)
(Power pole)

I returned to Shelby for the night, after 402 miles driven.

Thursday, 12 Jun 2014

From Shelby I headed out to a remote area of Montana.

Malmstrom SAFEGUARD Water Booster Station #1 MT  48-16-38, 111-25-59    Since I was in the area I revisited this site.  One of two water pump stations supporting the component installations of the SAFEGUARD system, this one was built adjacent to the access road of Malmstrom AF Missile Site Q-12.  The Army acquired the property in 1970, and it was declared excess 15 Feb 1974.
(General view)

(General view)
(General view)
(General view)
(Closeup inside fence)
(Closeup inside fence)
(Closeup inside fence)

Malmstrom SAFEGUARD Missile Site Radar SIte MT  48-08-30, 111-45-30    The Missile Site Radar (MSR), if completed, would have looked like the one at Nekoma, ND.  Construction was halted in May 1972, to comply with the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.  The Army had acquired the property in 1970, and declared it excess 15 Feb 1974.
(H-shaped building)

(H-shaped building)
(H-shaped building)
(Vehicle heater outlets at H-shaped building)
(Large building)
(Medium building)
(Medium building)
(Small building)
(Small building)
(Small building)
(Loading dock)
(Water reservoir)
(Water reservoir)
(Water reservoir)
(Water reservoir)
(View of H-shaped building from water reservoir)
(Sewage lagoon)
(Sewage lagoon sign)
(Electrical equipment)
(Commercial electric substation)

Conrad Radar Bomb Scoring Site (RBSS) MT  (CPBS)  48-02-44, 111-28-29    The 1.38 acre property was leased Nov 1983 and the installation activated 1 Jun 1986.  A .87 acre portion of this property was set apart as the Conrad Strategic Training Range Complex, Fixed Technical Site on 8 May 1985.  It was inactivated 30 Jun 1993, and disposed of 17 Aug 1998.  The remaining .51 acre of the original lease was terminated in 1988 or 1990.  Malmstrom AFB provided support.  I observed no trace of the Air Force operation, shown on a map as located just north and west of the Community House seen in the photos.  It's not clear to me if the building itself was used by the Air Force.
(Community House in front of leased area)

(Community House)

Pendroy Mini-MUTE Radar Site (20MM3) MT  (TAKL)  48-05-48, 112-17-56    This unmanned facility supported Conrad RBSS.  It was activated 8 Sep 1988 and disposed of 3 Oct 1994.
(General view from outer gate)

(View from inner gate)
(View from inner gate)
(Light and phone box)
(Phone box)
(Electrical boxes)
(Light detail)

I returned to Shelby for one final night, after covering 266 miles.

Friday, 13 Jun 2014

From Shelby I headed south. 

Agawan RBSS MT  48-04-17, 112-11-15    The Air Force leased 11.25 acres inside the fenced compound of a gas compressor station to park mobile radar bomb scoring vans.  The land was leased Mar 1974 and the lease was terminated 14 Mar 1976.
(General view of compound)

(Leased property was behind these garages)

I wrapped up this day with 490 miles driven. 

Total miles were 3,093 for this eight-day adventure.


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